TNs--end-of-year dinner---Champagnes, Haut-Bergey Blanc, Vernay, Ridge, Mann

The Toronto Wine Elitist Cabal, along with 2 guests, got together for our last dinner of the year (and possibly last dinner at a restaurant for some time). The place was Veloute Restaurant and Bistro and the food and service were both excellent. Tran will be along to post food porn and additional thoughts.

2008 Charles Orban Millesime

delightful and different aromatics of cupcake and citrus. Persistent. Equally beguiling palate which is smooth and crisp at the same time. Lemon and just a little mineral and salt. Really understatedly good

Laurent Perrier BdB Brut Natur

Quiet nose, some toast, unripe yellow apple. And yes, there is a cheesy note, just a sprinkle/ This sure is a different breed of LP. Super-sharp and incisive. Minerally for sure. My taste still prefers the silkiness of the Grand Siecle, but this has some attraction too.

Debbie brings a blind white. Some oak still, but just a nuance. Nice tropical-tending fruit. Palate has some sneaky length with light, tropical and marzipan with a salty side. It reminds me of pecorino. Wow—super-neat. 2009 Haut-Bergey Blanc. I don’t think I even knew that they made a white! There is an oiliness on the feel. This is showing really well and holds up through the night, becoming quite perfumed and floral on the nose later.

2018 Georges Vernay Condrieu La Grange aux Serpents

I wanted to bring a touchpoint for the grape. Very solid. If you want Viognier, this is it. Lilacs and pit fruit and honeycomb. Replays, it is thick, even for him, but it does have some precision, cut and depth. Still it’s somewhat big and just a little heat. Guessed 14 and right on the money. I think I’ve decided that Viognier is not my taste wheelhouse but this is a definite reference point

2012 Ridge Geyserville Zin

Smells like Ridge I’ve had. Blackberry and chocolate and plum and earth.

That’s super—I’m surprised but I think it’s in the heart of the drinking window. A tiny touch of soy around the edges, bit of meat but also a lot of tart small-berry fruit. Seamless match with Tran’s lamb. Remarkably, WOTN and probably pushes a 92 score from me. It’s very expressive.

2010 Albert Mann Altenbourg SGN

Smell and taste of apricots and ripe star fruit. Very long and a kind of hickory smoke hint at the back which is fascinating. Multifaceted in flavours, maybe a bit monodimensional in texture, but no lack of focus. Naturally a splendid match with creme brulee



Once again, it is left to yours truly to explain what really happened on the night of as well as to give the correct wine notes. The Toronto Wine Elitist Cabal ™ got together for its last in-person restaurant outing at Velouté Restaurant & Bistro on Queen Street in Toronto. This was their last evening in their current location, Chef Fwazi and his wife and partner Alize are moving to a new location in the new year. Board members Jay Shampur, Mike Grammer and myself got together TWEC ™ founding member Michael Wright and occasional TWEC ™ member Liz who is a friend of Jay’s and also inducted our newest female member Debbie Shing, a Level III WSET instructor and wine agent. Welcome Debbie!

We began the evening with two great Champagnes. I brought the 2008 Charles Orban Millésime. This was a wonderful Champagne, a cross between the riche and lean style of Champagnes with superb characteristics of both styles. It opens with a rich biscuit taste and ample mousse on the body, but then suddenly gives way to delicious red apple fruit, leanness and high acidity. Debbie also notes a distinctive caramel rancio note on the opening taste as well. Really, just a superb Champagne. I hope the LCBO brings more of this in.

Jay brought the Laurent Perrier NV Blanc de Blancs. In complete contrast to the Charles Orban, this was ethereal. It just evaporated on the tongue, floating away leaving dry flavors of fresh green apple. Mr. Grammer noted that it was quite unlike anything else he’s ever had from Laurent Perrier.

In the course of conversation, Debbie informed us Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon have been the best selling wine varietals in Canada for the last 7 years running and show absolutely no signs of slowing down. The next two best selling white varietals, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, are far and way down the list further than anyone might reasonably believe. I can understand the love for Cabernet Sauvignon but Pinot Grigio? Really? Blech.

At this point, we all indulged in Debbie’s mystery wine. She informed us that this was the wine type that got her into wine. We all had a difficult time pinpointing it and everyone started circling melon, white lotus, creaminess, minerality, some lees, salinity and some phenolics. Jay finally made a serious guess at Sancerre and that’s what triggered me personally to recognize the Sauvignon Blanc characteristics but I was thrown off by the richness, creaminess and the lees. I had actually guessed Chenin Blanc from Cali before realizing Jay was on the right track.

The reveal: Debbie’s only bottle of the Chateau Haut-Bergey 2009 Bordeaux Blanc. Of course, the blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc makes perfect sense and fully accounts for all of our notes above. So obvious upon the reveal, but it was really fun and intriguing to see that we were all so close as a group but White Bordeaux never once came to our minds.

Next up was Mr. Grammer’s contribution of the Georges Vernay 2018 La Grange aux Serpents Condrieu. Full-bodied, oily texture, extremely floral aromas and flavors of Muscat, peach blossoms and honeycomb. This sucker was big at 14% ABV, we drink so much delicate white Burgundy that we forget France can make big rich wines that rival California and this was a great example. I loved this but not sure the rest of the group was enamored of this wine as I was.

Liz contributed a Ridge 2012 Geyserville Zinfandel. This had a smoky nose and Mr. Grammer said it tasted like hickory. Tannins are all resolved, smooth Burgundy Pinot like body, and dry plum flavors. Exceptional red wine that went very well with my lamb shank, so well that I shared a piece of it with everyone so that they could specifically try it with the Ridge. This was Mr. Grammer’s WOTN. I am torn between this and the Condrieu. Debbie suggested we pair it with our cheesecake dessert which had a blueberry compote on the side and she was 100% correct.

Lastly, my contribution was my last bottle of the Albert Mann 2010 Altenbourg Selection de Grains Nobles. This stickie has extremely high acidity, smoke, sweet candied lime peel, dried apricot and dried peach flavor. This was fantastic with our créme brulée and cheesecake desserts.


For dinner, we started out with the bread basket and Velouté’s own olive oil and balsamic reduction.

For appetizers, I shared a half dozen oysters with everyone.

Debbie had the Caesar Salad made with diced romaine hearts, roasted rosemary croutons, homemade mustard garlic dressing, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a generous amount of real anchovies.

Jay had the house special Fish and Scallop Ceviche. He managed to snag the very last one available for the evening.

Liz and I both had the Crab and Lobster Cake. It was crusted with Panko bread crumbs and served with a brandy mayonnaise, avocado guacamole and Norwegian smoked salmon on the side.

Mr. Wright had the Beef Carpaccio, hand-cut raw beef dressed with Parmigiano-Reggiano and white truffle oil infused EVOO sitting on a bed of micro greens.

Mr. Grammer had the French Onion Soup. Sweet Vidalia onions were simmered with veal stock, Port and Sherry wines and topped with puff pastry and mozzarella cheese.


For our mains, I had the aforementioned Australian Lamb Shank with crushed potatoes, green beans, and rosemary lamb jus.

Mr. Wright had the Seafood Risotto with lobster tail, Hokkaido Sea scallops, black tiger shrimps and saffron butter.

Jay had the Shrimp Linguine with fresh pesto, vegetable macedoine and sun-dried tomatoes.

Debbie had the Lemon Tortellini. Homemade tortellini stuffed with lemon zest, mascarpone and ricotta was topped with pesto, spanish saffron crème sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Mr. Grammer had the pan-seared Atlantic Salmon with green beans and a coconut citrus reduction.

For dessert, Mr. Grammer had the Créme Brulée which he ordered specifically to pair with the SGN which was an exceptional match.

Jay and I had the Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote. Jay shared his with Debbie. I kept mine all to myself. There’s only so much I’m willing to do for friendship.

We’d like to thank Chef Fawzi and Alise for their usual excellent food and hospitality as well as the floor staff, one of whom was literally working her first day with us. We look forward to seeing them in 2022 in their new location!

Notice how Michael and I are “Mr. Wright” and “Mr. Grammer” while Jay is just…Jay [grin.gif]

Thanks for posting your always-excellent pictures and your counterpoint notes, Tran. A very enjoyable night with friends.

Impressive list of wines, all . . .and i agree that Viognier is a challenging variety, especially if you lean towards whites witj acid.

Yes, i KNOW you can find versions that have decent acidity, but then you give up texture usually . . .